An excited group of 68 fifth graders from Burgess-Peterson Academy spent the Friday before the Thanksgiving break making iced cake pops, creating computerized designs for coffee mugs, and painting wooden tool boxes and bird feeders.
The students were doing more than just having fun, however. They were also learning real-life career skills, thanks to the inaugural Phoenix Academy Career Day on Nov. 22. The daylong event was designed to expose elementary-age students to various career pathways by providing them with hands-on experience in culinary arts, construction and engineering technology.
Divided into groups based on their distinct interests, students spent time in Chef Brittany Ammons culinary arts class, where they learned to pour melted candy batter, dip pre-formed pumpkin and cream cheese cake pops, and then decorate the delightful pastry to resemble a tiny pumpkin.
In another class, a group of students gained skills in engineering graphics and design, learning the essentials of creating a design, printing and cutting it, and pressing the design on a mug. Others spent time using their creativity to design and paint pre-made tool boxes and bird feeders.
Richard Elder, construction and career, technology and education (CTE) teacher at Phoenix Academy, organized the program with the hopes that it will become an annual program to help provide students with hands-on, career-ready skills.
“We wanted to expose students to different careers that are offered at Phoenix Academy,” said Elder, who invited some of the school’s partners to attend. “The purpose is that once students are old enough to decide on a career, we want them to have an idea about the different programs that are offered in career tech.”
Angela Donald, professional school counselor at Burgess-Peterson, was excited about her students participating in career day.
“I think it’s a great experience for them. So many students their age want to be in the NFL, NBA, and become famous. That’s nice, but we have to be realistic that all of our children will not make it to the NFL, NBA or be famous,” Donald said. “They need to understand that there are more career paths that they can take. I love that the activities were hands-on. Every area – construction, culinary and engineering – might make them think that they can pursue other careers.
“I love that we’re exposing students to other career pathways,” she added. “They now see they can enjoy a job that’s hands-on.”
Those words were music to Phyllis Lucy’s ears. Lucy teaches engineering technology program at Phoenix Academy, which is the only industry-certified engineering school in the state of Georgia. The goal, she said, is to help students become ready for college and career.
“This is important because we know that people change jobs 10 times before they actually get what they want. To expose students early enough helps them make an informed decision,” Lucy said. “At Phoenix Academy, we try to give our students an opportunity to see where they skills set are, where there likes are, and where they passion is. If it means going to college or entering the workforce, that’s cool. Our job is to create careers that are lifelong, that may go through changes, but they have to start somewhere.”